A pleasant blend of self-help and home-design theory.




In this debut design guide, West presents remodeling as a means for life improvement.

Our homes reflect the best and worst of our inner selves, asserts the author, as they encourage us to pursue our goals: “Your home can be the key to better health, better sleep, better relationships, and an all-around better life,” she says. But West points out that “Your home can also lock you into a damaging relationship, drain your energy, and devour your money.” Decorating and remodeling can truly improve people’s lives, she says, but only if they go into it with honest self-examination. In this book, she asks readers to more deeply consider the psychology of home improvement rather than simply going out and buying whatever they think will make them happy. The author roots each decision in biography, not property, urging readers to consider what environments are most amenable to sleep and fitness and to long-term career and family goals; she also addresses how to refresh a home after one’s kids leave for college or one’s marriage ends. By considering the economic, emotional, and aesthetic weight of home improvement decisions, the author aims to help readers create not only a renewed physical space, but also a rejuvenated approach to life. West writes in a soothing, enthusiastic prose style that’s more reminiscent of a self-help book than an interior design manual: “it’s important to figure out just ‘who’ it is you are living with. Unfortunately, many of us are living with bullies that keep us in a state of stress and prevent us from living an abundant life.” The chapters are full of questionnaires that will help readers to discover their deeper motivations. In one section, for instance, readers must list each item in a room, identifying who chose it, when it was last used, and the emotions that they associate with it. Decorative decisions are also analyzed; bare walls, the author says, might mean “a lack of commitment to this place, this life, these relationships.” Some may find the book’s amateur psychology a bit facile, but its underlying message is a useful one. The author offers readers a good opportunity to slow down, regroup, and move forward with a better understanding of how their homes relate to their psyches.

A pleasant blend of self-help and home-design theory.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9976237-0-3

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Bright House Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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